Where would you run a campaign?

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Havard
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Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Havard » Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:49 pm

Some campaigns are world spanning and epic like the Lord of the Rings itself, but many campaigns are more localized, at least in the beginning. TOR's campaign set around the Mirkwood and area explored by in the Hobbit is really interesting.

What are some other parts of the Middle-earth you think it might be fun to set a campaign?

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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by willpell » Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:33 pm

One of my big disappointments with LOTR is the way that the Easterlings and Southrons are dismissed as "bad guys", puppets of Sauron who serve much the same role in the story as the orcs and goblins and Uruk-Hai. They're humans just like the men of Rohan and Gondor; portraying them otherwise smacks of not just Fantastic Racism, which I already dislike, but of the garden-variety real-world kind, which utterly appals me. If I found myself moved to run a LOTR-setting game, I would almost certainly want to set it somewhere southeast of Mordor, and explore the complexity of those parts of those cultures which stayed behind. It might be very interesting to explore the events of the previous five years, see how exactly Sauron's forces set about infiltrating and corrupting the leadership of those nations, in order to get them to commit their armies to his cause; there could be resistance movements operating in their countries to try and discover the true nature of these "foreign investors" who seem so eager to have closer relations with their country.

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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Havard » Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:45 pm

willpell wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:33 pm
One of my big disappointments with LOTR is the way that the Easterlings and Southrons are dismissed as "bad guys", puppets of Sauron who serve much the same role in the story as the orcs and goblins and Uruk-Hai. They're humans just like the men of Rohan and Gondor; portraying them otherwise smacks of not just Fantastic Racism, which I already dislike, but of the garden-variety real-world kind, which utterly appals me. If I found myself moved to run a LOTR-setting game, I would almost certainly want to set it somewhere southeast of Mordor, and explore the complexity of those parts of those cultures which stayed behind. It might be very interesting to explore the events of the previous five years, see how exactly Sauron's forces set about infiltrating and corrupting the leadership of those nations, in order to get them to commit their armies to his cause; there could be resistance movements operating in their countries to try and discover the true nature of these "foreign investors" who seem so eager to have closer relations with their country.
I'm not getting into a debate about Tolkien's alleged racism. That is not appropriate for this forum and certainly not on topic for this thread. However, I see no problem with the fact that Easterlings, Southrons etc had become puppets of Sauron. That is how evil works in Middle-earth. Indeed, a similar fate had fallen to the King of Rohan (indirectly, through Saruman and Wormtongue) and the Steward of Gondor (directly through the Palantir). Those peoples would likely have fallen under the dominon of Sauron or been killed if The Fellowship had not intervened. Orcs, while devolved into a cruel and base way of life, had also become like this due to the influence of Sauron (and Morgoth?) over centuries.

Having said that, I agree with you that a campaign dealing with other human cultures, perhaps as pockets of resistance could be interesting. I would assume Sauron would corrupt the leaders first and then work his way down through the chain of command, though various strategies are certainly possible. Those weak of mind would certainly become corrupted first. I don't know if there are any mentions of how long these peoples had been under the domination of Sauron, but I'm guessing for quite a while.

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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Yaztromo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:34 am

I don't know why, but I always felt the port of Umbar as an interesting place, although it didn't have much spotlight in the LotR, but just passing notes.
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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Boneguard » Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:31 pm

Arnor.

Yes I usually set my set my MERPS game in the past, I find it easier to deal with the canon lore. And with Arnor, you have your enemies at your backdoor.
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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by agathokles » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:15 pm

Havard wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:49 pm
Some campaigns are world spanning and epic like the Lord of the Rings itself, but many campaigns are more localized, at least in the beginning. TOR's campaign set around the Mirkwood and area explored by in the Hobbit is really interesting.

What are some other parts of the Middle-earth you think it might be fun to set a campaign?
I think there are many good options. In MERP, we have mostly started from Bree or Tharbad, but I there are good resources for Gondor. Someone willing to have more free room could easily investigate the Ered Luin or, as other have mentioned, Umbar or the Esterlings.

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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Tolwen » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:36 am

Boneguard wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:31 pm
Arnor.

Yes I usually set my set my MERPS game in the past, I find it easier to deal with the canon lore. And with Arnor, you have your enemies at your backdoor.
I can only second that. Arnor - or more specifically its successor realms - are my favourite campaign backdrop. I prefer an early setting (i.e. the first half of the 15th century), when Angmar has already been founded, but still conceals its evil nature and poses as a realm of men bent on "shaking off the yoke of Númenórean patronage and serfdom" and championing the "self-rule of the men of Middle-earth". The hidden evil is a nice way to still have this element, but behind the scenes.
Another advantage is that you also have the Gondorian civil war as a possible backdrop with lots of moral dilemmas and shades of gray to be encountered.

The era of Fall of Arthedain would also be a good era, since it also sees the Third Wainrider War in Gondor, the appearance of the Balrog in Khazad-dûm and the migration of the Eotheod northwards in the Anduin Vales.

Interestingly, the era of the "Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" is usually the last when I think about where and when to set a campaign.

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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Falconer » Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:23 am

Eriador is my go-to. If I find myself in Bree, even without the DM dropping any rumors, I instantly have several things I want to check out.
  1. To the south — the Barrow-downs, where rest the treasures of the Princes of Cardolan (duh, let’s loot ’em)
  2. To the north — Fornost, ruined Fortress of the Kings of Arthedain, a.k.a. Deadmen’s Dike (a name begging for a module code). Maybe find a Palantír up there—that’ll come in handy.
  3. To the east — How did those sweet, super-ancient treasures from Lost Gondolin end up in the Trollshaws? Is there any more? A mini-Gondolin to be found in the Misties, perhaps?
  4. To the far southeast — The ruins of Ost-in-Edhil in Eregion. Fallen last bastion place of ringcraft and other smithcraft of the Fëanorians.
  5. To the far north — The Ice Bay of Forochel. There’s gotta be some super-duper-ancient, ridiculously high level nastiness left over from Utumno to tangle with.
And of course there’s Moria. You can find anything there, sometime, somewhere.

I do want to do something completely different in Harad sometime.
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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:59 pm

Have you considered a campaign set in the past, before Sauron made his power grab?

Middle-earth would be very different. You could run a story without the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings overshadowing what the PCs were doing.

Or, for fun, you could give Sauron a different name, make him an apparently minor NPC and see if the PCs can pick up on any of the plots. :twisted:
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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by willpell » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:14 pm

I was always fascinated by the idea of "The Necromancer" in Mirkwood, and I was disappointed when this was explained as being Sauron in another form. I would flat-out retcon that and make him a distinct villain, who eventually gets taken over by Sauron - unless the players can prevent this, keeping the devil they know instead of having the villain they've been fighting this whole time turn into a much worse foe who crushes them like bugs.

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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Falconer » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:59 pm

There are a lot of great storylines set in the 20th c. TA—the rise of the Éothéod Northmen, the Wainrider Easterling invasion, the Fall of Arthedain (and of Angmar), the fall of Minas Ithil, and the end of Anarion’s line, all of which are interconnected. And the waking of the Balrog (not as connected).

MERP’s default setting was even earlier, c. 1640, the aftermath of the Great Plague. Perhaps they thought the Plague — Gondor depopulated, evil resurgent — was a good setup for D&Dish adventure.

I recently learned that many Middle-earth Diplomacy variants of the 1960s-70s preferred this general setup, as well (Witch-King in Angmar, Necromancer in Mirkwood). Since they were trying to come up with a balanced and Diplomacy-like setup, they liked having multiple important evil powers, the lack of a superpower (Mordor), and the existence of a Mannish power in the northwest (Arnor or Arthedain). Another advantage of this setup is that you can imagine your game as spanning centuries, i.e., being the tale of the Third Age rather than the tale of a single snapshot in time.

I see the appeal. But all of my games have been set before, during, or after the LR (sometimes going off into an alternate timeline). I like the ability to capitalize on peoples’ familiarity with the setting as much as possible.
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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Boddynock » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:59 pm

My experience with LOTR has only been through the lens of the books (Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and Rings) and several sessions of MERP (Middle-earth Role Play from ICE). So, with that in mind, I'd like to go age-by-age and talk a little about what I'd like to run or play in with a Middle-earth campaign.

1st Age

Out of the ages, 1st is probably the one I'd have the least interest in. I think a good deal of its story and history are told throughout Quenta Silmarillion and I'm not sure if I'd have anything else in mind. If I could think of anything, I'd would focus on a period between Dagor Bragollach and Nírnaeth Arnoediad. The Siege of Angband is broken, Morgoth's forces are on the loose, but it isn't quite the blackest moment as seen at Nírnaeth. It's a good time for adventurers to strike out, take the fight to Morgoth's minions, and either try to either make their corner of the realm a little better, or earn some treasure. Maybe a little column A, a little column B.

2nd Age

I really like the idea of a Middle-earth campaign set post-Númenor and pre-Last Alliance. The Númenoreans have recently landed and Sauron's forces are on the move. Another good time to bring together a party of adventurers to do things that do not really conflict with established continuity.

Now let me just note that I'm usually not a 'Continuity Lawyer'. I'm open to a lot of interpretations set forth by a GM. If there was any canon I'm a little leery of rocking or ignoring, it may be Middle-earth and Tolkien. I won't say the works of Tolkien should be carved in stone, well, not yet. But it's one of the few things.

3rd Age

A few areas jump to mind: Mirkwood, Erebor during the War of the Ring, maybe a Ithilien Ranger campaign. Side areas to fight the forces of Sauron.

4th Age

It's kind of funny, my experiences with MERP were wholly centered around the 4th age. I remember touring Mordor like some well-armed tourist playing both a Sindarian Elf (I believe he was a Warrior/Fighter) and a Dwarven Animist (that one I knew for sure). I also remember unlike my memories of the books and the movies using the Arms law tables so that all of our kills were almost cartoonishly over the top. Maybe they were realistic but it always seemed like some Orcs head was being caved in or their eyes gouged out.

Anyway, a 4th age game I'd probably focus on either cleaning the last vestiges of taint of Mirkwood or maybe poking around the Grey Havens/Lindon for treasures of yesteryear or some such. Umber doesn't sound bad either and I'd also go for a Harad desert campaign.
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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by thorr-kan » Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:40 pm

The One Ring and Adventures in Middle Earth games do a really good job setting adventures between The Hobbit and The Trilogy. Plenty of room for adventure there.

For myself, I really would set a campaign in and around Bree. Small town, cozy adventurers, with stakes that are larger than they might be able to imagine.

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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Falconer » Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:06 am

Tolkien’s Beleriand in the First Age is my very favorite thing. I love the swashbuckling adventures which take place against a backdrop of epic doom and destruction. I wonder how that can be recaptured in a RPG without canon getting in the way—temporally and physically, the setting in question is pretty constricted. Perhaps it is best ‘mined’ for ideas which can then be ‘recast’ in another time and place (sort of like how he came up with the Wilderlands of The Hobbit). One possible wide-open time-and-space could be the Tale of Eärendel. Tolkien meant for this to be the single grandest, longest, and most important of all his Tales—presumably until LotR came along; but even LotR was supposed to be a pale shadow of it, on some level. But he never wrote it. I have some ideas as to what it might entail.
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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Raymond » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:23 pm

For a one-off or at least short campaign, I'd like to start at the Green Dragon Inn on the same day The Hobbit starts.

For a long campaign, I'd like to start at the end of the First Age and see if I can get the players to go through the written adventures as much as possible. I have listed the MERP/LOR/OR adventures I know about by in-game date here:

viewtopic.php?f=98&t=19068

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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Lord Zack » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:31 am

I've considered borrowing Wilderland as a setting for a non-Middle Earth campaign and it would be my first choice for a campaign set in Middle Earth as well.

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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by Angel Tarragon » Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:57 pm

It might be fun to do a full campaign set exclusively in the Shire.
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Re: Where would you run a campaign?

Post by talsine » Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:51 pm

I'm honestly not a huge fan of the setting , but I've always wanted to play MERP and never had the chance. That aside, the few games have all been TOR so between The Hobbit and LotRs which has been fun, i really enjoy engaging with the mechanics. But if i was going to run one, i would put it after LotR so that i wouldn't feel compelled to try and maintain canon and could just do whatever i want. Plus, since most people have at least seen the movies at this point, it puts everyone on even ground with nothing already set in stone. Sure, this grand adventure just finished, but there is an nothing but whatever the players want to do ahead of them. I find when trying to set a game around established materials its better to set it after anything that is official so that, even if its unconscious, the players don't hold themselves back because of what is already supposed to happen.

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